Farmland Preservation

Farmland Preservation Program

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Program was developed in 1988 to strengthen Pennsylvania's agricultural economy and protect prime farmland. Washington County passed a resolution in 1994 establishing the County Agricultural Land Preservation Board for purchasing agricultural conservation easement from landowners.
The program is designed to protect viable agricultural lands by acquiring agricultural conservation easements which prevent the development or improvement of the land for any purpose other than agricultural production. Pennsylvania leads the nation in the number of farms and acres preserved. According to the American Farmland Trust, Pennsylvania is losing more than 40 acres of farmland daily. As of April 2018, there are 5,297 farms totaling 549,728 acres in Pennsylvania with an agricultural conservation easement in place, including Washington County's contribution of 38 farms totaling 5,911 acres.

In Washington County, application are accepted annually until September 30th of any given year. Landowners must meet the following requirements to apply to the farmland preservation program:
  • A minimum of 50 acres; or at least 10 acres and utilized for a crop unique to the area; or 10 acres and adjacent to an already preserved farm
  • Enrolled in an Agricultural Security Area consisting of 500 acres or more
  • Contain at least 50% of soils which are available for agricultural production and are of Land Capability Classes I-IV, as defined by the Soil Survey published by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
  • Contain the greater of 50% or (ten) acres of harvested cropland, pasture or grazing lands.
  • Landowners must exhibit good land stewardship including but not limited to the use of conservation and best land management practices such as soil, sedimentation control and nutrient management.

Available Materials

Farmland Preservation Policies and Bylaws
Farmland Preservation Policies and Bylaws Appendix H - Priority Agricultural Area Map
Farmland Preservation Appendix A - Landowner Application
2019 IRS W-9 Form

Agricultural Security Areas

Agricultural Security Areas (ASA) were designed to strengthen and protect agriculture in Pennsylvania. Twenty-seven municipalities in Washington County participate in the Agricultural Security Areas program which entitles farmers to special consideration from local and state government agencies, and encourages continuous use of the land for productive agricultural purposes. For more information, please visit the PA Department of Agriculture website: Agricultural Security Area web page.

Congratulations to South Strabane Township on their recently created Agricultural Security Area program.

Farmland Preservation Board

Mr. William Iams, Chairman
Mr. Alvin Carter, Vice Chairman
Mr. Jeremy Matinko, Treasurer
Mr. Richard Shriver
Mr. William Paxton
Mr. Robert O'Brien
Mr. Earl Sadler

Farmland Preservation Easement Summary

Township Number of Farms Acres Preserved
Amwell 3 508.602
Chartiers 1 136.368
Cross Creek 3 529.2577
Cross Creek/Jefferson 1 96.23
Deemston 1 170.426
Hanover 2 327.21
Hopewell 13 2,040.0378
Hopewell/Mount Pleasant 3 499.75
Independence 4 550.9646
Mount Pleasant 2 322.22
North Bethlehem 1 274.328
Somerset 1 47.177
West Bethlehem 2 262.12
West Pike Run 1 146.827
 TOTAL 38 5,911.5181

Program News and Notes

- Applications for the Farmland Preservation Program may be submitted
through September 30, 2019.

- The Bylaws were amended in June 2014, updating Section V to reflect the ASA
Law's definition of "Contiguous Acreage" which includes land separated by
railroads. In addition, added to the county bylaws was a "Subdivision/Land
Development Form" applicable to those with preserved farms who meet the
requirements and find it necessary to subdivide in the future.

- There will be a Public Informational Workshop on April 25, 2019 at 6:00 P.M. at the Washington County Conservation District Office.  Please see the Event Flier for more information.